President celebrates — President Ahmadinejad and his supporters celebrated his triumph Tuesday after the Guardian Council announced that its investigation of complaints about the election was closed. A number of hardline clerics issued messages of support and congratulations, while the parliament issued a statement of gratitude for the result and thanked the security forces for maintaining order. Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the hardline cleric most closely associated with Ahmadinejad, said the Guardian Council would never approve Moussavi as a candidate for any future presidential race while Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, who had suggested some demonstrators should be executed for treason at the last Friday prayers in Tehran, referred to Mousavi as “anti-revolutionary and against the regime.”
The president himself celebrated by visiting the Intelligence Ministry, which played a key role in quelling the unrest. There he hailed the election as an endorsement of the direction he had set for the country. “Despite the enemies’ both hidden and obvious plots to overthrow the system with velvet revolutions, they were defeated and did not achieve their objective,” he said.
An AP report from Cairo suggests Ahmadinejad has already begun a purge of his government. The report quoted the independent agency Fararu as saying three senior Oil Ministry officials who had been fired were prominent members of former President Mohammad Khatami’s government. The report said the three were also allies of Ayatollah Rafsanjani, like Khatami a backer of Moussavi in the election.
One of the few notes of discord came from the Combatant Clergy Association. Although it called for no more street protests , it also demanded an end to the military atmosphere and the release of those arrested. “We reserve the right to protest against the result of the election, but believe people should not pay any further price and that escalating tensions and street protests are not the solution.” The Islamic Revolution Mujahedin Organisation reportedly said the election had no legitimacy and it would use all legal means to fight peacefully the “illegal government”.
Former president Khatami also demanded effective measures to return unity to the country and called for an independent panel to examine the crisis and restore public trust. According to PressTV Khatami “stressed the need for taking measures to ensure freedom of expression for all”. He also described Moussavi as one of the “religious, noble and valuable assets” of the Islamic Revolution whose “re-emergence in the political scene is an opportunity for the country”.
And a day after Ayatollah Javad Amoli demanded a separation of powers in his Friday prayers address in Qom, Ayatollah Jalaledin Taheri, a former prayer leader in Isfahan accused the leadership of abusing the legacy of Ayatollah Khomeini. In a clear attack on the Guardian Council he said: “Did the Imam believe that those who should remain impartial during an election can take sides publicly in favour of a particular candidate?”
Conscription cut — Iran is to cut the length of compulsory military service for educated Iranians by up to 10 months from the present 18 months, according to PressTV. The more educated the conscript, the bigger the cut: a PhD gets the maximum 10 month cut, a masters 8 months, bachelors 6, associate degree 4 and diploma 2. The current maximum length for uneducated conscripts is two years. The new rules will come into force in 2011.
Cyber warriors — The Revolutionary Guards have set up a new cyber-crime unit “ to counter organized crimes on websites”, according to Iran’s state media. The crimes listed included “organized crime, espionage, economic and social corruption, money laundering and cultural inroads through the internet”.
Obama backed — A CNN/Opinion Research poll suggests solid backing from American voters for President Obama’s position on Iran. Although more than 80% said they believed the Iranian election was rigged, 74% opposed direct US intervention in the crisis.
Financial pressure — New York state said today it is divesting more than $86m of investments by the state pension fund in businesses linked to the regimes in Iran and Sudan. Thomas DiNapoli,, the state comptroller, said the move was intended to protect the fund from risks tied to genocide and terrorism. The divestments involve nine companies, including the Russian energy giant Gazprom, and all their subsidiaries. DiNapoli said a further seven firms, including the oil firms Eni, Royal Dutch Shell and Total, were being monitored, and his office was also going to look at “a broader list of companies” including Nokia Siemens Networks, which has come under fire for selling cell phone monitoring technology to Iran.
The move comes a day after the state of California ordered all insurance companies doing business in the state to disclose investments in all companies that do at least $20 million of business in Iran’s petroleum or natural gas industries. Within 90 days, they also have to list investments of any amount in companies doing business with Iran’s banking, nuclear or defense industries. Steve Poizner, California’s Insurance Commissioner, said he was trying to ensure money paid by California policyholders is not flowing to a US-listed state sponsor of terrorism. He is also contacting his counterparts in other states to suggest they do the same. Poizner is also checking that California-based insurance companies are complying with a state law that took effect in January that prohibits direct investment in Iran’s government or companies associated with it.
Meanwhile the US has imposed sanctions on an Iranian company it accuses of working with firms involved in North Korea’s missile programme. The Department of the Treasury said it had added Hong Kong Electronics in Kish island, Iran, to its list of “designated proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters” for working with two others on the list: North Korea’s Tanchon Commercial Bank and the Korea Mining Development Trading Corp. The move freezes the company’s assets in the US and prohibits any American dealings with the firm.
Stage twitters — London’s Royal Court Theatre has hastily changed its schedule to put on a performance made up solely of tweets on the Iranian election and its aftermath. From the Tweets of Tehran is being put on in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs on Wednesday evening as part of its Rough Cuts programme.
Britain tries to dampen row — Britain appears to be going to some lengths to defuse the row with Iran and reopen dialogue between Tehran and the West on its nuclear programme. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said today he spoken on the phone again to his Iranian counterpart, Manuchehr Mottaki “and we both agreed … that a swift resolution was in both of our interests.” Miliband stuck by his demand for the release of the four remaining Iranian staffers at the British embassy and said the European Union would have to impose tougher sanctions on Iran if it did not accept an international offer for talks on its nuclear programme by the end of the year. But he said Mottaki had expressed a wish to “raise the level of Iran’s engagement with Britain and other European countries”.
On Monday, however, Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi said he expected the Group of Eight industrialised nations to impose fresh economic sanctions on Iran at its summit in Italy next week. “Iran will be the first topic that we will deal with,” he said. “According to the telephone conversations I have had with other leaders, I think that we will go in the direction [of] sanctions”
Newsweek man’s ‘confession’ — Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian reporter working for Newsweek magazine who was arrested last week in Iran, has admitted his coverage was biased towards Moussavi and that he was part of a capitalist conspiracy to undermine the election, according to a Fars news agency report carried in the Canadian press. The agency said his “admission” was made at a news conference today to discuss his situation with other reporters.
African visit — There’s something of a stir at the 13th African Union summit in Libya after it was revealed that Ahmadinejad will address the gathering on Wednesday. An AFP report suggests there is some muttering among delegates that Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi, the union’s current president, invited the Iranian president without consulting them. The report says Ahmadinejad will lead a high-level political and economic delegation to the three-day summit. Iran’s Mehr news agency said the invitation was extended since Iran has become a “strategic partner” to Africa.
Still defiant — I commend this article under the byline Kamand Saba of Tehran. Entitled simply The Walk, it tells of a young Iranian going out on to the streets to continue demonstrating defiance of the regime in whatever way possible. Dated today, it says: “Today I saw hundreds of my brothers and sisters with wills made of steel who were visibly showing the V sign of victory; in groups large and small or individually they had taken to the streets and will do so again and again this week and next week and next month until we, the youth of the land of Iran, of the Iranzamin, will shake off all the tyrants of power and demand our right to peaceful demonstrations, the annulment of this charade of an election and move towards more transparency and democratic government and an equal rule of law for a better Iran for all. Yes, we are the Iranian middle class and we run this country, and those who rule it should either wise up to this fact and compromise, or like all those who have tried to rule against the open opposition of their people, they will end up in the dustbin of history!” So who thinks it’s all over?
University row — Farhad Rahbar, Tehran university chancellor, has denied a claim that he invited security forces to enter the university dormitories on June 15. He said he strongly rejected the claim by pro-Ahmadinejad MP Mohsen Kukhan and said he didn’t know of the attack until afterwards.
Prophetic words — One of the popular videos on YouTube is this recording of a speech shortly after the revolution by the late Ayatollah Taleghani, who attempted to spearhead resistance to the clergy’s direct involvement in politics before his death.
Step right inside — The latest piece of black humour to come out of Iran is this picture of a placard that states: Evin Prison: now accepting student applications.